Day 1. Arrive in Quito (9000 ft/2800 meters). We will be picked up at the airport and taken to the hotel by our guides.
Day 2. Acclimatization and city tour. In the morning, we will visit the colonial part of Quito with its beautiful churches and historical sites. At about midday, we will take the brand new cable car all the way up to the top of Cruz Loma hill (4,100 m / 13,450 ft) from where we can enjoy a magnificent view of the city, the surrounding mountains and the main goal of our expedition: the beautiful and symmetrical cone of Cotopaxi. After taking a short hike we will descend to Quito. Equipment check in the afternoon. Overnight in Quito.
Day 3. On the second day of our acclimatization process we will drive towards Pasochoa (4,200 m / 13,779 ft). We will follow the direct route up the north side of the mountain. It takes approximately 3 hours to hike to the summit from the car park. Once there we can look into the old crater whose vertical walls preserve some of the last of the original forest that once covered the whole area. Pasochoa is also one of the few volcanoes in Ecuador where it is still possible to see condors, the largest flying birds. After descending, we will drive to Hosteria La Estacion located in the Ecuadorian countryside to spend the night.
Day 4. Today we will drive for about thirty minutes to get to the village of El Chaupi (3,400 m / 11,155 ft) located at the foothills of the Ilinizas. From here we will start hiking towards the site known as “La Virgen” (3,900 m / 12,795 ft) where we will set up our base camp for climbing Iliniza Norte. In the afternoon, we will further acclimatize by walking up to the base of a broad rocky ridge (4,200 m / 13,780 ft approximately) with superb views of Cotopaxi to the east. Return to camp to rest and prepare the ascent of the north peak the next day.
Day 5. The two Ilinizas are the remains of one old volcano. Iliniza Norte is a rocky mountain and has the distinction of being the eighth highest mountain in the Andes of Ecuador. Its normal route is considered an excellent acclimatization ascent. It follows the southeast ridge up to the base of a tower. We will have to go around it and traverse to the bottom of the final gully where easy scrambling will take us to the summit (5,126 m / 16,817 ft). The views of the highest snowcapped mountains in Ecuador are spectacular. The round trip takes approximately 8 hours. Back at base camp after the climb, we will enjoy a well deserved rest.
Day 6. We will break camp after having breakfast and travel east to get into the Cotopaxi National Park. We will stay at Tambopaxi, a comfortable lodge located at the base of the extinct volcano Ruminahui and at an elevation of 3700 meters / 12,140 feet. From here, the view of the north face of the volcano Cotopaxi is impressive and inspirational. In the afternoon, we will review mountaineering skills.
Day 7. After breakfast, our private transportation will take us to the park land at an altitude of 4600 meters / 15,100 feet. From there, we will have to walk approximately an hour to the Jose Ribas Refuge and the closest glacier (4800m / 15,750 ft). Once at the glacier, we will review basic mountaineering techniques. We will return to the hut to prepare the climb of the second highest Ecuadorian volcano the next day.
Day 8. We will wake up at midnight and begin the ascent at about 1:00 in the morning. We will have to traverse up and to the right of the triangular red scree slope to reach the glacier. Once on the glacier, the normal route keeps going to the right for a couple of hundred meters and then goes mostly straight up aiming for the right side of the rock wall known as Yanasacha. After ascending the last 650 feet on snow to the right of Yanasacha, we will reach the summit of Cotopaxi (5,897 m / 19,347 ft). Fabulous views of the active crater with a diameter of 800 meters and a depth of 300 meters and of mountains such as Antisana, the Illinizas, Cayambe and Chimborazo will be the reward to our effort. Return to our hotel in Quito. Farewell dinner.
Day 9. Flight back home.
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